How to Create a QuickBooks 2019 Purchase Order

By Stephen L. Nelson

A QuickBooks purchase order serves a simple purpose: It tells a vendor that you want to purchase some item. In fact, a purchase order is a contract to purchase.

Many small businesses don’t use purchase orders. But when they grow to a certain size, many businesses decide to use them because purchase orders become permanent records of items that they’ve ordered. What’s more, using purchase orders often formalizes the purchasing process in a company. You may decide, for example, that nobody in your firm can purchase anything that costs more than $100 unless he or she gets a purchase order. If only you can issue purchase orders, you’ve effectively controlled purchasing activities through this procedure.

How to create a real QuickBooks purchase order

To use QuickBooks to create purchase orders, follow these steps:

  1. Tell QuickBooks that you want to create a purchase order by choosing Vendors→Create Purchase Orders.

    QuickBooks displays the window shown.

    qb-create-purchase-orders

    If the Vendors menu doesn’t supply a Create Purchase Orders command, QuickBooks doesn’t know that you want to create purchase orders.

  2. Use the Vendor drop-down list to identify the vendor from whom you want to purchase the item.

    The Vendor drop-down list lists each of the vendors in your vendor list.

  3. (Optional) Classify the purchase, using the Class drop-down list.

    Note that you don’t see a Class drop-down list unless you’ve turned on class tracking.

  4. (Optional) Choose a different Ship To address from the Ship To drop-down list in the top-right corner.

    The Ship To drop-down list displays a list of all your customers, vendors, and employees. You change the Ship To address by selecting one of these other names. After you select an entry from the Ship To list, QuickBooks fills in the Ship To address box with the appropriate information.

  5. Confirm the purchase order date.

    Initially, QuickBooks puts the current system date in the Date box. You should, however, confirm that the date that QuickBooks enters as the purchase order date is correct. This is the contract date. Often, the date sets contractual terms, such as the number of days within which the item is to be shipped.

  6. Confirm the purchase order number.

    The purchase order number, or P.O. number, uniquely identifies the purchase order document. QuickBooks sequentially numbers purchase orders for you and places the appropriate number in the P.O. No. box. The guess that QuickBooks makes about the right purchase order number is usually correct. If it isn’t correct, you can enter a replacement number.

  7. Confirm the vendor and Ship To information.

    The Vendor block and the Ship To block identify the vendor from whom you’re purchasing the item and the address to which you want the vendor to send the shipment. This information should be correct if your vendor list is up to date and you’ve correctly used the Ship To drop-down list to identify, if necessary, an alternative Ship To address.

    Nevertheless, confirm that the information shown in these two address blocks is correct. If the information isn’t correct, of course, fix it. You can edit address-block information by selecting the incorrect information and then retyping whatever should be shown.

  8. Describe each item that you want to order.

    You use the columns of the Create Purchase Orders window to describe in detail each item that you want to order as part of the purchase. Each item goes in its own row. To describe an item that you want to purchase from the vendor, you provide the following bits of information:

    • Item: The Item column is where you record the unique item number for the item that you want to buy. Remember that items need to be entered, or described, in the Item list. The main thing to know about the Item list is that anything that you want to show in the invoice — or, for that matter, in a purchase order — must be described in the item file.

    • Description: In the Description column, you describe the item that you select. You can also edit the Description field so that it makes sense to customers or vendors.

    • Qty: The Qty column specifies the quantity of the item that you want. Obviously, you enter the number of items that you want in this field.

    • Rate: The Rate column specifies the price per unit or rate per unit for the item. Note that QuickBooks uses different labels for this column depending on the type of business that you’ve set up.

    • Customer: The Customer column identifies the customer for whom the item is being purchased.

    • Class: In the Class column, you classify purchase order items at the item level rather than at the purchase order level. Note that you won’t see this column unless you’ve turned on class tracking.

    • Amount: The Amount column shows the total expended for the item. QuickBooks calculates the amount for you by multiplying the quantity by the rate (or price). You can edit the column amount. In this case, QuickBooks adjusts the rate (or price) so that quantity times rate always equals the amount.

    You enter a description of each item that should be included in the purchase order. This means, for example, that if you want to order six items from a vendor, your purchase order should include six lines of information.

  9. Print the purchase order.

    The purpose of recording a purchase order in QuickBooks is to create a formal record of a purchase. You almost always want to transmit this purchase order to the vendor. The purchase order tells the vendor exactly what you want to purchase and the price that you’re willing to pay.

    To print the purchase order, you can click the Print button. You can also print purchase orders in a batch later if you select the Print Later check box (available on the Main tab) when you’re creating purchase orders, save all the purchase orders that you want to print later, and then choose the File→Print Forms→Purchase Orders command.

  10. Save the purchase order.

    To save your purchase order, click either the Save & Close button or the Save & New button. If you click the Save & New button, QuickBooks saves that purchase order and redisplays an empty version of the Create Purchase Orders window so that you can record another purchase order.

Purchase order tips and tricks in QuickBooks 2019

Here are a few more important observations:

  • Not every purchase deserves a purchase order. If you’re not used to working with purchase orders, it’s easy to go overboard when you start using this handy tool. Nevertheless, keep in mind that not all purchases warrant purchase orders (see the next item).
  • Use purchase orders to manage buying. Typically, businesses use purchase orders as a way to control and document purchases. In fact, many purchases don’t really require a purchase order. Amounts that you’ve agreed to purchase that are documented through standard contracts — such as bills from the telephone company, the gas company, and your landlord — don’t need purchase orders, obviously. In addition, modest purchases, such as office supplies, often don’t need purchase orders. You definitely need a way to control these expenditures, but purchase orders probably aren’t the way to go.
  • Consider other, complementary control tools. Other budgetary controls, such as “approval from the supervisor” or a simple budget, often work just as well.